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Test Your Ocean Knowledge!
1) What percentage of the world’s water is found in oceans?
2) What are oceans important?
a. They supply us with food
b. Provide oxygen
c. Influence our weather and climate
d. All of the above
3) Which of these is the largest mammal in the ocean and also the largest animal on Earth?
a. Hawaiian monk seal
b. Blue whale
c. Whale shark
d. Loggerhead sea turtle
4) Which litter item is commonly mistaken as jellyfish by leatherback sea turtles?
a. Plastic bag
b. Foam cup
c. Aluminum soda can
d. Old tires
5) How can you help the oceans?
a. Throw away trash in the garbage can
b. Be a responsible beach visitor
c. Volunteer with local clean-ups
d. All of the above
Check Out These Online Ocean Activities!
Learn the truth about sharks with Predator Protector
Test your knowledge of Amazing Jellies
Who sings in the sea? Find out with the Voices in the Sea games
Trace the gray whale migration
Follow the Turtle Trail
Play Fossil Fun
Learn how to draw a shark
Create a cartoon ocean E-card
Solve ocean puzzles
Find all 73 species in the Ocean Diversity Challenge
Play the March of the Penguins game (requires Flash player)
Participate in the Great Turtle Race
Explore Ocean Zones
Featured Activity: Is There Kelp In Your Cupboard?
Have you ever eaten seaweed? You may have eaten it without knowing! Kelp and other seaweeds are types of algae that live in the ocean. Kelp grows off the coast of California and in other cool, nutrient-rich waters around the world. Kelp forests are sometimes referred to as “rainforests of the sea” because they provide many different layers of habitat (food, water and shelter) for a diversity of living things, such as sea otters, sea lions, urchins and fish.
Kelp and other seaweeds are helpful to people too! Not only are seaweeds used in foods like sushi, but their extracts are also mixed into everyday products like toothpaste, salad dressing and even ice cream to make these items thicker. Become a seaweed sleuth and find out if there is kelp in your cupboard!
What You’ll Need
- A variety of kitchen, bathroom and household products, such as sauces, syrups, yogurt, flour mixes, cosmetics, toothpaste, shaving cream and paint
- A piece of paper and pencil to record your findings (or a printout of this worksheet from the Monterey Bay Aquarium – you will need Adobe Acrobat to view it)
What To Do
- Take a look at these examples of brown, red and green algae.
- Search various kitchen, bathroom and household items for the following ingredients:
- alginate: made from kelp and other brown algae; may be found in paint, toothpaste, ice cream and more;
- carrageenan: made from red algae; may be found in foods, cosmetics and other products;
- beta carotene: a yellow coloring from green algae; also found in some vegetables.
- What products contain seaweed? Write or draw them on the worksheet or paper. Then, tell a friend or adult how important the ocean is to our lives!
When you’re done, check out the Is There Kelp in Your Cupboard online game.
Thanks to Monterey Bay Aquarium for this fun activity!
So far, scientists have discovered about 275,000 marine (ocean) species. But, only 5% of the world’s oceans have been explored…think of how many unknown species might be living in the other 95%! Scientists think there could be 10 million or more marine species that have yet to be discovered. How many species do you think are in the oceans?
Top image courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; bottom image courtesy of nih.gov.
What is Marine Debris?
Trash travels! Rain and wind can carry litter from streets and beaches into nearby waterways and eventually into the ocean. Litter and other trash that ends up in the ocean is called marine debris.
Last year, volunteers with the International Coastal Cleanup found 6.8 million pounds of trash along beaches and coasts throughout the world. This is the weight of 12 blue whales!
Marine animals can accidentally eat or get tangled in this garbage. It also takes a long time to biodegrade, or decompose. How long? Here is a time line that shows how long common debris lasts in the ocean:
Newspaper – up to 6 weeks
Cardboard Box – 2 months
Cigarette Butt – 5 years
Plastic Bag – 20 years
Aluminum soda can – 200 years
Plastic Bottle & Disposable Diaper – 450 years
Fishing Line – 500 years
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a huge area of floating garbage (much of it plastic) that has collected in the Pacific Ocean and floats around with ocean currents.
In 2008, two researchers with the Algalita Marine Research Foundation built a small boat out of 15,000 used plastic bottles and sailed across the Pacific Ocean! They sailed the JUNKraft from California to Hawaii to research the effects of plastic pollution in the Pacific and to educate people about what we can do to prevent it.
About 80% of plastic pollution in the ocean comes from trash on land that washes into the ocean. To find out how to help, check out the What You Can Do page.
Marine debris washed ashore. Photo courtesy of Marine Photobank.
Learn fun facts about oceans!
- Humans could not exist without oceans. They provide us with food, cycle our water, generate most of the oxygen we breathe, balance our climate, supply us with medicines and provide inspiration. They even give us jewelry!
- The largest fish in the world is the whale shark, which can reach over 50 feet in length and weigh several tons. The largest mammal on Earth is the blue whale, which can be 100 feet long and weigh 200,000 to 300,000 pounds – equivalent to 15 adult male elephants!
- Under the ocean’s surface exist mountains higher than Mount Everest and canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon. The largest living structure is also underwater — Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
- Deep sea vents are openings in the ocean floor that release scalding hot water and toxic chemicals into the cold, dark water surrounding them. Some very unique animals, such as giant clams, 8-foot tall tube worms and fish with no eyes, have adapted to living around the vents.
- About 90% of all ocean life lives in shallow water along coasts, including coral reefs. Coral reefs have high biodiversity – they provide habitat for many species, including fish, sponges, jellyfish, anemones, shrimp, lobster, crabs, mollusks, starfish, sea turtles, dolphins, sharks and others.
- In the oceans, tiny creatures known as plankton are at the base of the food chain and ultimately feed all other ocean life. There are three main types of plankton: phytoplankton (plants); zooplankton (animals that eat phytoplankton); and bacterioplankton (bacteria). More than 70% of the world’s oxygen supply comes from phytoplankton in the ocean. Every two or three breaths, remember to thank the ocean!
The whale shark is the largest fish on Earth. Copyright Wolcott Henry 2005. Photo courtesy of Marine Photobank.
The blue whale is the largest mammal in the ocean and the largest animal ever known to live on Earth. Photo courtesy of Marine Photobank.
Coral reefs are some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. Photo courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Learn more about oceans and how you can help protect them!
- Ocean Facts
- Ocean Ecosystems
- Ocean Careers
- Marine Animal & Plant Guide
- Fish: Frequently Asked Questions
- Ocean Explorations
- Aquatic Seafari
- Ocean Explorations
- An Exploration of Deep Sea Coring
- El Niño: Ocean and Weather Connection
- What is a watershed? And how does it impact the oceans?
- Marine Debris: Trash in the oceans
Coral reef. Photo by Dr. Dwayne Meadows, courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
World Ocean Day
June 8, 2009
- Wear blue, Tell Two on World Ocean Day – June 8: People around the world will celebrate oceans and water this month in honor of World Ocean Day. One easy way to celebrate with them is to wear blue and tell two people you know about how important oceans are and why you love them!
- Attend or organize a local event: Check out this map of World Ocean Day events worldwide!
Loggerhead sea turtle. Photo copyright Mito Paz, courtesy of Marine Photobank.
Check out these cool ocean tools online!
Photos and Interactive Graphics
- Slideshow from a deep-sea coral reef expedition
- The Deep: Explore the Southern Ocean
- Living Ocean photo & video gallery
- National Marine Sanctuaries guide
- Threats to coral reefs interactive poster
- Arctic Ecosystem interactive photo
- National Geographic Photos, Videos and Facts
- The Hudson River Plume Investigation: How watersheds impact the ocean
- Experiments from the New England Aquarium
- Nautical Chart Challenge
- Please Pass the Salt
- It All Runs Downhill
- Make an Edible Coral Reef
- Build an Underwater Robot
- Follow That Hurricane
- Be a Citizen Weather Reporter
Do you see the fish? It’s camouflaged on coral – a strategy that helps to protect it from predators. Photo by Dr. Dwayne Meadows, courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
- Trash on the Spin Cycle
- Secrets of the Kelp Forest
- Orcas Hunting
- Underwater Volcano
- Live Web cams of kelp forests, otters, penguins and more from the Monterey Bay Aquarium
- Shark cam and Underwater Penguin cam
- Animal videos from the New England Aquarium
- Whale shark swimming: view from above
- Humpback Whales
- Saved by a Shark
- Ocean Fairies: jellyfish and other zooplankton
- Deep-Sea Corals
- Whale of a Leap: Orcas (Killer Whales)
- Fishy Disguises — National Geographic
- Krill: Food for Whales
- Crack the Blue Whale Code
- Sand fiddler crabs eating among mangrove trees
- Year of Science: Oceans and Water theme
- Encyclopedia of Marine Sanctuaries
- Marine Debris 101
- Marine stormwater pollution
- Thank You Ocean
- The Scarlet Knight: an ocean glider’s voyage across the Atlantic
- Mission to the Abyss
Other Cool Tools
- Listen to Ocean Sounds
- Ocean Adventures Computer Wallpaper
- Aquarium Animals E-Postcards
- Explore giant underwater Kelp Forests
- Discover Diving with the New England Aquarium
Blue whale from above. Photo by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, courtesy of Marine Photobank.
1) c. About 97% of the Earth’s water is found in its five oceans: Arctic, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian and Southern. Oceans contain salt water, but other sources of water contain fresh water – water without salt. These include glaciers, snow, the ground, rivers, lakes, the atmosphere and even plants and animals. Over the course of 100 years, an average water molecule spends 98 years in the ocean, 20 months as ice, 2 weeks in lakes and rivers and less than one week in the atmosphere!
2) d. Oceans are important for all of these reasons, and so many more! First, they provide seafood, including shrimp, tuna fish, salmon, lobster and shellfish like oysters and clams. The average American eats about 16 pounds of fish and shellfish per year, and the United States as a whole consumes over 4 billion pounds of seafood each year. Second, another important ocean benefit is oxygen, which is essential for us to breathe. Over half of the world’s oxygen supply comes from tiny ocean plants known as phytoplankton. Like trees, they go through photosynthesis — they absorb sunlight and nutrients and release oxygen in return. Third, the world’s oceans are important to weather and climate (the average weather over time). They absorb and store vast amounts heat from the sun. The ocean receives most of its heat along the equator, where incoming solar energy is most powerful. The ocean stores this heat and distributes it around the planet through ocean currents and winds, helping to control climate. This heat energy also reacts with the atmosphere above the ocean surface, creating weather patterns, such as rain storms and hurricanes.
3) b. Whale sharks are the biggest fish in the sea, by blue whales are the largest animal on Earth. They grow to an average of 70 to 90 feet in length, but some grow to be more than 100 feet. That’s the length of about 3 or 4 school buses lined up in a row! The weight of these huge whales can be anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 pounds, about the weight of 15 full grown male elephants combined! Even their hearts are huge – the size of a small car. Blue whales are hungry creatures, but survive by eating tiny shrimp-like animals called krill. They eat 2 to 4 tons of Krill each day. Unfortunately, the blue whale has been heavily hunted by humans and is now considered an endangered species. There are only 15,000 individual blue whales left in all the world’s oceans.
4) a. Plastic bags. Leatherback sea turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, one of their favorite foods. Plastic bags are a real danger to leatherback sea turtles that attempt to eat plastic bag. The bags gets caught in their throat, making them very sick and unable to swallow any other food. Leatherbacks can also became tangled in the plastic and drown. When plastic bags and other trash end up in the ocean, they become known as “marine debris.” Marine debris can stay put in the ocean for quite some time before they biodegrade, or decompose; it takes a plastic bag 20 years, a Styrofoam cup 50 years and an aluminum can 200 years! Each of these items, and all other marine debris, have the potential to harm many animals.
5) d. Each of these simple, but important, steps can help keep our oceans clean and healthy for all marine plants and animals and for humans to enjoy too! First, no matter where you live, rainwater washes litter from the street into storm drains, where it can flow into your local river and eventually the ocean. You can help at home by throwing trash in proper receptacles or organizing a trash cleanup in your community. If you visit the beach, “take only pictures and leave only bubbles.” Be sure to prevent your trash from blowing away in the wind and place it in a trash can before you leave. If there are no trash cans in sight, collect your trash in a plastic bag and bring it home to throw away or recycle. Also, use biodegradable sunscreen if possible, or cover up with sun-protective clothing while swimming, since some sunscreen chemicals can harm corals and other coastal life. Finally, this September, join over 378,000 volunteers worldwide in cleaning up your local stream, river or beach during the International Coastal Cleanup. Visit the What You Can Do page for more ways to help.